“Today, February 15, we commemorate the International Day against Childhood Cancer, with the aim of raising awareness among the population about this disease. In Peru, around 1,800 new cases of childhood cancer are registered each year, of which approximately only 1,400 will be properly diagnosed, and half of them will arrive in advanced stages,” says Dr. Esmeralda León, pediatric oncologist at our clinic, who will provide us with valuable information about this fearsome disease that, if detected in time, can be cured.
What are the most common types of childhood cancer?
- Leukemia: It is the most frequent type of cancer. It begins in the bone marrow, the soft tissue in the center of bones, where blood cells are made. Within it, acute lymphatic leukemia is the most common
- Central nervous system tumors: They are the second most frequent cause of malignant tumors. Despite the fact that great advances have been made in its diagnosis and treatment, this type of childhood cancer still represents one of the great challenges for health professionals.
- Lymphomas: They occupy the third place and are a type of cancer that begins in the lymphatic system, made up of a network of organs and vessels that move a transparent liquid called lymph in the body. This network is a fundamental part of the body’s immune system.
What are the main advances achieved in treatments?
- With the knowledge of the disease, it is known that an important group of patients has a genetic affectation or a predisposition to developing cancer at an early age and this makes timely detection and consistent treatment possible.
- On the other hand, there are more specific drugs to treat certain types or subtypes of childhood cancer, which improves the survival rate of this disease.
What signs and symptoms should we be alert to?
- Most typically, the child has an unexplained fever for more than 1 week without a found cause.
- Bruises in areas of the body where the child has not had a previous bruise or blow
- Appearance of lumps in different areas, not painful
- Increased abdominal volume
- Vomiting, especially predominantly in the morning, accompanied by headache
- Paleness and abnormal bleeding
- Neurological problems such as seizures, muscle weakness, behavior changes, confusion
- Bone pain that interrupts the child’s activity
- Abnormalities in one or both eyes. A white patch (leukocoria) or deviation of the eyes (squint) occurs
- Blurred vision, double vision, or blindness
Dr. Esmeralda León
Pediatric oncologist at Clínica Ricardo Palma